Dave Lavin took over the Palmerton wrestling program last year with a couple of quality wrestlers and the ultimate task of trying to build a varsity squad that was used to having a lot of holes to fill.
This year, despite the losses of a couple of outstanding wrestlers in Mike Englert and Dan Costenbader, Lavin has noticed an increase of candidates in the wrestling room and likes that positive sign.
"Throughout the lineup, I think we have a little more consistency," Lavin said,. "We had a lot of inexperienced guys just filling in spots last year."
"Depth is still an issure, but at least we can spread out eight to 10 guys who have experience now and hope to win a lot of the matches that we are competitive in."
Lavin looks to experienced guys like co-captains Sam Oberlander, at 130 pounds and Jarrett Kleintop at 189 to build the team around.
The Bombers strength looks to be in the middle weight classes where Dillon Masington comes back at 125, Cody Grohotolski at 140 and Travis Wolfe at 145 have experience. Kane Kralik also added experience at 215.
Tony Gardo, who jumped in a lot as a freshman where he was needed on varsity is also back and could go either 135 or 140.
"They all had good records for us last year on varsity, plus we have some guys who did well on the junior high level and placed at districts that are moving up this year," said Lavin.
Andrew Strauss (171), Joey Bubble (135), Josh Evans (112) who won junior high districts twice and Jake Christman, who also won junior high districts, will be at 152 or 160.
Kleintop was out most of last year with an injured elbow, but he's healthy now and will help shore up the upper weights.
Skyler Rosenberry is a new wrestler and will move around up top with Kralik and Cody Silfies is a first-year wrestler who could also crack the lineup in the heavier weights.
"I don't know if I've ever seen a first year guy catch on so quickly," said Lavin. "He could definitely see a bunch of action for us this year."
Lavin feels that last year was a learning experience for both him and his team. Neither knew what to expect from each other. Right from the start, he's scene that the work ethic and technique has improved already and is right where it was in midseason last year.
"I can tell that they want to improve," said Lavin. "We saw improvement last year when a lot of guys started to click near the end of the season and realized they could be good at this sport and right now want to capitalize on that."
The big weakness again will be depth, since even though there are move individuals in the wrestling room, injuries could be detrimental.
Lavin does see some light at the end of the tunnel with the solid youth program in town and more wrestlers coming out for the junior high team.
"Our goal as a team is to make it to district duals and it's a realistic one even though we didn't do well team wise," said Lavin. "In three of the matches we wrestling against teams who made it to duals last year, we were a one match swing away from winning those. We used that as motivation to try and get there this year.
"We are also hoping to get a couple of guys through regionals and out to states this year."